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Harvard Guide to Using Sources 

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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

Depending on the conventions of your discipline, you may have to decide whether to summarize a source, paraphrase a source, or quote from a source.

Scholars in the humanities tend to summarize, paraphrase, and quote texts; social scientists and natural scientists rely primarily on summary and paraphrase.

When and how to summarize

When you summarize, you provide your readers with a condensed version of an author's key points. A summary can be as short as a few sentences or much longer, depending on the complexity of the text and the level of detail you wish to provide to your readers. You will need to summarize a source in your paper when you are going to refer to that source and you want your readers to understand the source's argument, main ideas, or plot (if the source is a novel, film, or play) before you lay out your own argument about it, analysis of it, or response to it.

Before you summarize a source in your paper, you should decide what your reader needs to know about that source in order to understand your argument. For example, if you are making an argument about a novel, you should avoid filling pages of your paper with details from the book that will distract or confuse your reader. Instead, you should add details sparingly, going only into the depth that is necessary for your reader to understand and appreciate your argument. Similarly, if you are writing a paper about a journal article, you will need to highlight the most relevant parts of the argument for your reader, but you should not include all of the background information and examples. When you have to decide how much summary to put in a paper, it's a good idea to consult your instructor about whether you are supposed to assume your reader's knowledge of the sources.

Guidelines for summarizing a source in your paper

  • Identify the author and the source.
  • Represent the original source accurately.
  • Present the source’s central claim clearly.
  • Don’t summarize each point in the same order as the original source; focus on giving your reader the most important parts of the source
  • Use your own words. Don’t provide a long quotation in the summary unless the actual language from the source is going to be important for your reader to see.

Stanley Milgram (1974) reports that ordinarily compassionate people will be cruel to each other if they are commanded to be by an authority figure. In his experiment, a group of participants were asked to administer electric shocks to people who made errors on a simple test. In spite of signs that those receiving shock were experiencing great physical pain, 25 of 40 subjects continued to administer electric shocks. These results held up for each group of people tested, no matter the demographic. The transcripts of conversations from the experiment reveal that although many of the participants felt increasingly uncomfortable, they continued to obey the experimenter, often showing great deference for the experimenter. Milgram suggests that when people feel responsible for carrying out the wishes of an authority figure, they do not feel responsible for the actual actions they are performing. He concludes that the increasing division of labor in society encourages people to focus on a small task and eschew responsibility for anything they do not directly control.

This summary of Stanley Milgram's 1974 essay, "The Perils of Obedience," provides a brief overview of Milgram's 12-page essay, along with an APA style parenthetical citation. You would write this type of summary if you were discussing Milgram's experiment in a paper in which you were not supposed to assume your reader's knowledge of the sources. Depending on your assignment, your summary might be even shorter.

When you include a summary of a paper in your essay, you must cite the source. If you were using APA style in your paper, you would include a parenthetical citation in the summary, and you would also include a full citation in your reference list at the end of your paper. For the essay by Stanley Milgram, your citation in your references list would include the following information:

Milgram, S. (1974). The perils of obedience. In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell (Eds.), The Blair reader (pp.725-737).

When and how to paraphrase

When you paraphrase from a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words. Whereas a summary provides your readers with a condensed overview of a source (or part of a source), a paraphrase of a source offers your readers the same level of detail provided in the original source. Therefore, while a summary will be shorter than the original source material, a paraphrase will generally be about the same length as the original source material.

When you use any part of a source in your paper—as background information, as evidence, as a counterargument to which you plan to respond, or in any other form—you will always need to decide whether to quote directly from the source or to paraphrase it. Unless you have a good reason to quote directly from the source , you should paraphrase the source. Any time you paraphrase an author's words and ideas in your paper, you should make it clear to your reader why you are presenting this particular material from a source at this point in your paper. You should also make sure you have represented the author accurately, that you have used your own words consistently, and that you have cited the source.

This paraphrase below restates one of Milgram's points in the author's own words. When you paraphrase, you should always cite the source. This paraphrase uses the APA in-text citation style. Every source you paraphrase should also be included in your list of references at the end of your paper. For citation format information go to the Citing Sources section of this guide.

Source material

The problem of obedience is not wholly psychological. The form and shape of society and the way it is developing have much to do with it. There was a time, perhaps, when people were able to give a fully human response to any situation because they were fully absorbed in it as human beings. But as soon as there was a division of labor things changed.

--Stanley Milgram, "The Perils of Obedience," p.737.

Milgram, S. (1974). The perils of obedience. In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell (Eds.), The Blair reader (pp.725-737). Prentice Hall.

Milgram (1974) claims that people's willingness to obey authority figures cannot be explained by psychological factors alone. In an earlier era, people may have had the ability to invest in social situations to a greater extent. However, as society has become increasingly structured by a division of labor, people have become more alienated from situations over which they do not have control (p.737).

When and how much to quote

The basic rule in all disciplines is that you should only quote directly from a text when it's important for your reader to see the actual language used by the author of the source. While paraphrase and summary are effective ways to introduce your reader to someone's ideas, quoting directly from a text allows you to introduce your reader to the way those ideas are expressed by showing such details as language, syntax, and cadence.

So, for example, it may be important for a reader to see a passage of text quoted directly from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried if you plan to analyze the language of that passage in order to support your thesis about the book. On the other hand, if you're writing a paper in which you're making a claim about the reading habits of American elementary school students or reviewing the current research on Wilson's disease, the information you’re providing from sources will often be more important than the exact words. In those cases, you should paraphrase rather than quoting directly. Whether you quote from your source or paraphrase it, be sure to provide a citation for your source, using the correct format. (see Citing Sources section)

You should use quotations in the following situations:

  • When you plan to discuss the actual language of a text.
  • When you are discussing an author's position or theory, and you plan to discuss the wording of a core assertion or kernel of the argument in your paper.
  • When you risk losing the essence of the author's ideas in the translation from their words to your own.
  • When you want to appeal to the authority of the author and using their words will emphasize that authority.

Once you have decided to quote part of a text, you'll need to decide whether you are going to quote a long passage (a block quotation) or a short passage (a sentence or two within the text of your essay). Unless you are planning to do something substantive with a long quotation—to analyze the language in detail or otherwise break it down—you should not use block quotations in your essay. While long quotations will stretch your page limit, they don't add anything to your argument unless you also spend time discussing them in a way that illuminates a point you're making. Unless you are giving your readers something they need to appreciate your argument, you should use quotations sparingly.

When you quote from a source, you should make sure to cite the source either with an in-text citation or a note, depending on which citation style you are using.  The passage below, drawn from O’Brien’s  The Things They Carried , uses an MLA-style citation.

On the morning after Ted Lavender died, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha's letters. Then he burned the two photographs. There was a steady rain falling, which made it difficult, but he used heat tabs and Sterno to build a small fire, screening it with his body holding the photographs over the tight blue flame with the tip of his fingers.

He realized it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental, too, but mostly just stupid. (23)

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried . New York: Broadway Books, 1990.

Even as Jimmy Cross burns Martha's letters, he realizes that "it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental too, but mostly just stupid" (23).

If you were writing a paper about O'Brien's The Things They Carried in which you analyzed Cross's decision to burn Martha's letters and stop thinking about her, you might want your reader to see the language O'Brien uses to illustrate Cross's inner conflict. If you were planning to analyze the passage in which O'Brien calls Cross's realization stupid, sentimental, and then stupid again, you would want your reader to see the original language.

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

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examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

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Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
  • Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
  • Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Critical thinking

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, June 01). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-paraphrase/

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Identifying & Using Scholarly Sources

  • Scholarly vs Web Resources
  • Source Exercise
  • Putting Your Sources to Work
  • Quoting, Paraphrasing & Summarizing
  • Citation Help
  • Paper Formatting Tips

Integrating Sources into Your Paper

Integrating sources into a paper can be challenging. How much of a source do you use? When should you use quotation marks? It is important to remember that you are the author of a paper, so sources are properly used to back up your own arguments, not state an argument in themselves, so how you use them depends on the structure of your paper and your argument.

Here is a paragraph from a scholarly article:

These results suggest that morning people, or early chronotypes—as measured on the morningness–eveningness continuum are more proactive than are evening types. Additionally, the misalignment of social and biological time, as assessed by the difference between rise times on weekdays and on free days, correlated with proactivity, suggesting that people with a high misalignment of social and biological time may be less able to act in a proactive manner, probably because of sleep delay. Their biological schedules seem not to fit neatly into social demands (e.g., school, university, work schedules) as do those of less misaligned people.

Randler, Christoph. "Proactive People are Morning People."  Journal of Applied Social Psychology  39, no. 12 (December 2009): 2787-2797. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00549.x.

See examples of how to quote, paraphrase and summarize this paragraph below:

  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing
  • Use Quotation when you are repeating something from a source exactly  word for word .
  • You should use quotation marks  even if you are only taking just a few words from a source .
  • Quotes can help lend authority to an initial argument, but should not be relied upon too heavily in a paper. If you find yourself quoting an entire paragraph, a paraphrase or summary of that content may often be more appropriate.
  • Quotes can and should be used when the original author’s wording is unusual, unique, or memorably states a point.

Examples using the paragraph above:

Randler states that late risers have “a high misalignment of social and biological time” which results in a mismatch between their natural schedules and the normal workday. 1

1. Christoph Randler, "Proactive People are Morning People,"  Journal of Applied Social Psychology  39, no. 12 (December 2009): 2793.

“People with a high misalignment of social and biological time may be less able to act in a proactive manner, probably because of sleep delay.” 2

2.   Randler, "Proactive People are Morning People," 2793.

Notice that there are two ways to incorporate a source:

  • Single phrase  – using the author’s name in your own narrative, and then incorporating their idea or words into a sentence, like the first example above.
  • Direct quotation  – Using the words or ideas of the source independently, like in the second example.
  • Paraphrasing is taking the idea of a sentence or passage, and  putting it into your own words .
  • Paraphrasing is NOT copying the sentence and replacing or changing a few words to be different from the original. (This is called “patchwriting” and may trigger plagiarism-detecting programs.)
  • You should paraphrase when the idea or point is more important than the actual words used.
  • You should paraphrase when the words are complex but the point is simple.
  • Paraphrasing should remain faithful to the original meaning of the material.

Randler states that people who are naturally morning people often also display traits that are considered proactive. He also suggests that late risers may not show as many proactive traits because they naturally operate on a different sleep schedule. 1

People who are naturally morning people have been shown to also display traits that are considered proactive, and late risers display fewer of these traits because they don’t get enough sleep on days when they have to go to work or school. 2

  • As with paraphrasing, summarize when the idea or point is more important than the actual words used.
  • However, summary can also condense much more material – even an entire book or article.
  • Summary can often lead into your own points on the material.

Recent research shows that people who are not naturally early risers often have persistent issues adjusting themselves to the morning-oriented schedule of most schools and workplaces, and because of this may be less proactive in their behaviors. 1

1. Christoph Randler, "Proactive People are Morning People,"  Journal of Applied Social Psychology  39, no. 12 (December 2009).

The natural alignment of sleep schedules to work and school schedules allows early risers to have more energy and display proactive traits, while people who are natural late risers, and thus often combating sleep delay in adhering to regular schedules, display fewer of these traits. 2

2.   Randler, "Proactive People are Morning People."

Notice that with a Summary we do not always have to include the page number as we are summarizing the findings from the whole study, rather than just a small part of it.

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  • Last Updated: Oct 26, 2023 5:32 PM
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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

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These resources provide lesson plans and handouts for teachers interested in teaching students how to avoid plagiarism. The resources ask students to practice summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting. The resources with titles that include "Handout" provide handouts that are free to print for your students by using the print option in your web browser. The "Handout" resources correspond with the resource listed above it.

Time Estimate

Activate students’ schemata regarding the similarities and differences among summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.

Chalkboard/whiteboard

Computer Lab Option Materials

Digital projector

Write the words Summarizing , Paraphrasing and Quoting along the top of the whiteboard.

Elicit from students the rules they know related to each writing strategy.

Add additional information as needed. The board may appear as follows:

Computer Lab Option

Rather than using the whiteboard, one may choose to open up and project the above table in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word, completing the table as answers are elicited from students.

Citing Sources: Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

  • Citations Home
  • Formatting your paper in MLA style

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

  • In-text and parenthetical citations
  • Formatting a Works Cited Page
  • Citing books and e-books
  • Citing magazines, newspapers, or journal articles (print or online)
  • Citing websites, online videos, blog posts, and tweets
  • Citing images and works of art.
  • Citing a PowerPoint
  • Motion Pictures, TV Episodes, Recorded Music, Lectures, Interviews
  • Citing Legal Resources
  • Citing OERs in MLA9
  • Sample Papers
  • Formatting your paper in APA style
  • Headings, Figures and Tables
  • Formatting a References Page
  • Citing journal articles, newspapers, and other documents
  • Citing websites, social media posts, emails, interviews and AI tools
  • Citing audio visual and other formats
  • Formatting your paper in Chicago (Notes-Bibliography)
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Formatting a bibliography in Chicago (Notes-Bibliography)
  • Citing journal articles, magazines and newspapers (online or electronic)
  • Citing motion pictures, tv shows, radio broadcasts and interviews
  • Formatting your paper in the Author-Date System
  • Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing in the Author-Date System
  • Formatting a Reference List
  • In-text citations
  • Citing journal articles, magazines, and newspapers (online or electronic)
  • Citing, websites, online videos, blog posts, and tweets
  • Ask A Librarian

Sample paraphrasing - MLA Fomat 9th edition

  • MLA 9: Quoting and Paraphrasing Examples

Whenever you refer to ideas, information, statistics, images, concepts, facts or anything else that you found from an outside source, you need to let your readers know where you found that information. Typically, this is done by quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the information, and then citing the authors that produced it. 

What's the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing, and when do you do it?

Quoting - take original section or text, word-for-word, and add it to your paper using "quotation marks". You may want to use a quote in the following situations:

The quote is from a lead authority on your issue and helps to emphasize the point you want to make. The original author uses unique or memorable language that would be more effective in making a point.  It is difficult to paraphrase or summarize the quote without changing the intent of the author. Your attempts at paraphrasing the quote end up being longer or more confusing.

Paraphrasing - put information into your own words. Paraphrases are generally the same length or slightly shorter than the original text.  Paraphrasing well shows your understanding of the source material.  Paraphrasing may be used instead of a summary because it is more specific.  You may choose to paraphrase when:

The wording of the source text is less important than the content of the source text. To reorganize points made to emphasize certain points that support your paper. To clarify points for your audience when original text may be more technical or specialized

Summarizing - take the key points of source text and put them into your own words.  Summaries are generally much shorter than the original text. You may choose to summarize when:

The wording of the source text is less important than the content of the source text. To condense long material to highlight only points specific to your paper. To omit excess details not important for your paper. To simplify technical or specialized material for your audience.

In every case, you will need to cite the original source text using in-text or parenthetical citations, and include the citation for the original source on your Works Cited page.

See below for several examples of how to quote or paraphrase text and provide in-text/parenthetical citations.

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  • Next: In-text and parenthetical citations >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 16, 2024 10:21 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.pima.edu/cite

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Download this Handout PDF

College writing often involves integrating information from published sources into your own writing in order to add credibility and authority–this process is essential to research and the production of new knowledge.

However, when building on the work of others, you need to be careful not to plagiarize : “to steal and pass off (the ideas and words of another) as one’s own” or to “present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”1 The University of Wisconsin–Madison takes this act of “intellectual burglary” very seriously and considers it to be a breach of academic integrity . Penalties are severe.

These materials will help you avoid plagiarism by teaching you how to properly integrate information from published sources into your own writing.

1. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 888.

How to avoid plagiarism

When using sources in your papers, you can avoid plagiarism by knowing what must be documented.

Specific words and phrases

If you use an author’s specific word or words, you must place those words within quotation marks and you must credit the source.

Information and Ideas

Even if you use your own words, if you obtained the information or ideas you are presenting from a source, you must document the source.

Information : If a piece of information isn’t common knowledge (see below), you need to provide a source.

Ideas : An author’s ideas may include not only points made and conclusions drawn, but, for instance, a specific method or theory, the arrangement of material, or a list of steps in a process or characteristics of a medical condition. If a source provided any of these, you need to acknowledge the source.

Common Knowledge?

You do not need to cite a source for material considered common knowledge:

General common knowledge is factual information considered to be in the public domain, such as birth and death dates of well-known figures, and generally accepted dates of military, political, literary, and other historical events. In general, factual information contained in multiple standard reference works can usually be considered to be in the public domain.

Field-specific common knowledge is “common” only within a particular field or specialty. It may include facts, theories, or methods that are familiar to readers within that discipline. For instance, you may not need to cite a reference to Piaget’s developmental stages in a paper for an education class or give a source for your description of a commonly used method in a biology report—but you must be sure that this information is so widely known within that field that it will be shared by your readers.

If in doubt, be cautious and cite the source. And in the case of both general and field-specific common knowledge, if you use the exact words of the reference source, you must use quotation marks and credit the source.

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting — Explanation

Should i paraphrase or quote.

In general, use direct quotations only if you have a good reason. Most of your paper should be in your own words. Also, it’s often conventional to quote more extensively from sources when you’re writing a humanities paper, and to summarize from sources when you’re writing in the social or natural sciences–but there are always exceptions.

In a literary analysis paper , for example, you”ll want to quote from the literary text rather than summarize, because part of your task in this kind of paper is to analyze the specific words and phrases an author uses.

In research papers , you should quote from a source

  • to show that an authority supports your point
  • to present a position or argument to critique or comment on
  • to include especially moving or historically significant language
  • to present a particularly well-stated passage whose meaning would be lost or changed if paraphrased or summarized

You should summarize or paraphrase when

  • what you want from the source is the idea expressed, and not the specific language used to express it
  • you can express in fewer words what the key point of a source is

How to paraphrase a source

General advice.

  • When reading a passage, try first to understand it as a whole, rather than pausing to write down specific ideas or phrases.
  • Be selective. Unless your assignment is to do a formal or “literal” paraphrase, you usually don?t need to paraphrase an entire passage; instead, choose and summarize the material that helps you make a point in your paper.
  • Think of what “your own words” would be if you were telling someone who’s unfamiliar with your subject (your mother, your brother, a friend) what the original source said.
  • Remember that you can use direct quotations of phrases from the original within your paraphrase, and that you don’t need to change or put quotation marks around shared language.

Methods of Paraphrasing

  • Look away from the source then write. Read the text you want to paraphrase several times until you feel that you understand it and can use your own words to restate it to someone else. Then, look away from the original and rewrite the text in your own words.
  • Take notes. Take abbreviated notes; set the notes aside; then paraphrase from the notes a day or so later, or when you draft.

If you find that you can’t do A or B, this may mean that you don’t understand the passage completely or that you need to use a more structured process until you have more experience in paraphrasing.

The method below is not only a way to create a paraphrase but also a way to understand a difficult text.

Paraphrasing difficult texts

Consider the following passage from Love and Toil (a book on motherhood in London from 1870 to 1918), in which the author, Ellen Ross, puts forth one of her major arguments:

  • Love and Toil maintains that family survival was the mother’s main charge among the large majority of London?s population who were poor or working class; the emotional and intellectual nurture of her child or children and even their actual comfort were forced into the background. To mother was to work for and organize household subsistence. (p. 9)
Children of the poor at the turn of the century received little if any emotional or intellectual nurturing from their mothers, whose main charge was family survival. Working for and organizing household subsistence were what defined mothering. Next to this, even the children’s basic comfort was forced into the background (Ross, 1995).
According to Ross (1993), poor children at the turn of the century received little mothering in our sense of the term. Mothering was defined by economic status, and among the poor, a mother’s foremost responsibility was not to stimulate her children’s minds or foster their emotional growth but to provide food and shelter to meet the basic requirements for physical survival. Given the magnitude of this task, children were deprived of even the “actual comfort” (p. 9) we expect mothers to provide today.

You may need to go through this process several times to create a satisfactory paraphrase.

Successful vs. unsuccessful paraphrases

Paraphrasing is often defined as putting a passage from an author into “your own words.” But what are your own words? How different must your paraphrase be from the original?

The paragraphs below provide an example by showing a passage as it appears in the source, two paraphrases that follow the source too closely, and a legitimate paraphrase.

The student’s intention was to incorporate the material in the original passage into a section of a paper on the concept of “experts” that compared the functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

The Passage as It Appears in the Source

Critical care nurses function in a hierarchy of roles. In this open heart surgery unit, the nurse manager hires and fires the nursing personnel. The nurse manager does not directly care for patients but follows the progress of unusual or long-term patients. On each shift a nurse assumes the role of resource nurse. This person oversees the hour-by-hour functioning of the unit as a whole, such as considering expected admissions and discharges of patients, ascertaining that beds are available for patients in the operating room, and covering sick calls. Resource nurses also take a patient assignment. They are the most experienced of all the staff nurses. The nurse clinician has a separate job description and provides for quality of care by orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and providing direct support where needed, such as assisting in emergency situations. The clinical nurse specialist in this unit is mostly involved with formal teaching in orienting new staff. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist are the designated experts. They do not take patient assignments. The resource nurse is seen as both a caregiver and a resource to other caregivers. . . . Staff nurses have a hierarchy of seniority. . . . Staff nurses are assigned to patients to provide all their nursing care. (Chase, 1995, p. 156)

Word-for-Word Plagiarism

Critical care nurses have a hierarchy of roles. The nurse manager hires and fires nurses. S/he does not directly care for patients but does follow unusual or long-term cases. On each shift a resource nurse attends to the functioning of the unit as a whole, such as making sure beds are available in the operating room , and also has a patient assignment . The nurse clinician orients new staff, develops policies, and provides support where needed . The clinical nurse specialist also orients new staff, mostly by formal teaching. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist , as the designated experts, do not take patient assignments . The resource nurse is not only a caregiver but a resource to the other caregivers . Within the staff nurses there is also a hierarchy of seniority . Their job is to give assigned patients all their nursing care .

Why this is plagiarism

Notice that the writer has not only “borrowed” Chase’s material (the results of her research) with no acknowledgment, but has also largely maintained the author’s method of expression and sentence structure. The phrases in red are directly copied from the source or changed only slightly in form.

Even if the student-writer had acknowledged Chase as the source of the content, the language of the passage would be considered plagiarized because no quotation marks indicate the phrases that come directly from Chase. And if quotation marks did appear around all these phrases, this paragraph would be so cluttered that it would be unreadable.

A Patchwork Paraphrase

Chase (1995) describes how nurses in a critical care unit function in a hierarchy that places designated experts at the top and the least senior staff nurses at the bottom. The experts — the nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist — are not involved directly in patient care. The staff nurses, in contrast, are assigned to patients and provide all their nursing care . Within the staff nurses is a hierarchy of seniority in which the most senior can become resource nurses: they are assigned a patient but also serve as a resource to other caregivers. The experts have administrative and teaching tasks such as selecting and orienting new staff, developing unit policies , and giving hands-on support where needed.

This paraphrase is a patchwork composed of pieces in the original author’s language (in red) and pieces in the student-writer’s words, all rearranged into a new pattern, but with none of the borrowed pieces in quotation marks. Thus, even though the writer acknowledges the source of the material, the underlined phrases are falsely presented as the student’s own.

A Legitimate Paraphrase

In her study of the roles of nurses in a critical care unit, Chase (1995) also found a hierarchy that distinguished the roles of experts and others. Just as the educational experts described above do not directly teach students, the experts in this unit do not directly attend to patients. That is the role of the staff nurses, who, like teachers, have their own “hierarchy of seniority” (p. 156). The roles of the experts include employing unit nurses and overseeing the care of special patients (nurse manager), teaching and otherwise integrating new personnel into the unit (clinical nurse specialist and nurse clinician), and policy-making (nurse clinician). In an intermediate position in the hierarchy is the resource nurse, a staff nurse with more experience than the others, who assumes direct care of patients as the other staff nurses do, but also takes on tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the entire facility.

Why this is a good paraphrase

The writer has documented Chase’s material and specific language (by direct reference to the author and by quotation marks around language taken directly from the source). Notice too that the writer has modified Chase’s language and structure and has added material to fit the new context and purpose — to present the distinctive functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

Shared Language

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a number of phrases from the original passage appear in the legitimate paraphrase: critical care, staff nurses, nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist, nurse clinician, resource nurse.

If all these phrases were in red, the paraphrase would look much like the “patchwork” example. The difference is that the phrases in the legitimate paraphrase are all precise, economical, and conventional designations that are part of the shared language within the nursing discipline (in the too-close paraphrases, they’re red only when used within a longer borrowed phrase).

In every discipline and in certain genres (such as the empirical research report), some phrases are so specialized or conventional that you can’t paraphrase them except by wordy and awkward circumlocutions that would be less familiar (and thus less readable) to the audience.

When you repeat such phrases, you’re not stealing the unique phrasing of an individual writer but using a common vocabulary shared by a community of scholars.

Some Examples of Shared Language You Don’t Need to Put in Quotation Marks

  • Conventional designations: e.g., physician’s assistant, chronic low-back pain
  • Preferred bias-free language: e.g., persons with disabilities
  • Technical terms and phrases of a discipline or genre : e.g., reduplication, cognitive domain, material culture, sexual harassment
Chase, S. K. (1995). The social context of critical care clinical judgment. Heart and Lung, 24, 154-162.

How to Quote a Source

Introducing a quotation.

One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don’t simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.

Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves two elements:

  • A signal that a quotation is coming–generally the author’s name and/or a reference to the work
  • An assertion that indicates the relationship of the quotation to your text

Often both the signal and the assertion appear in a single introductory statement, as in the example below. Notice how a transitional phrase also serves to connect the quotation smoothly to the introductory statement.

Ross (1993), in her study of poor and working-class mothers in London from 1870-1918 [signal], makes it clear that economic status to a large extent determined the meaning of motherhood [assertion]. Among this population [connection], “To mother was to work for and organize household subsistence” (p. 9).

The signal can also come after the assertion, again with a connecting word or phrase:

Illness was rarely a routine matter in the nineteenth century [assertion]. As [connection] Ross observes [signal], “Maternal thinking about children’s health revolved around the possibility of a child’s maiming or death” (p. 166).

Formatting Quotations

Short direct prose.

Incorporate short direct prose quotations into the text of your paper and enclose them in double quotation marks:

According to Jonathan Clarke, “Professional diplomats often say that trying to think diplomatically about foreign policy is a waste of time.”

Longer prose quotations

Begin longer quotations (for instance, in the APA system, 40 words or more) on a new line and indent the entire quotation (i.e., put in block form), with no quotation marks at beginning or end, as in the quoted passage from our Successful vs. Unsucessful Paraphrases page.

Rules about the minimum length of block quotations, how many spaces to indent, and whether to single- or double-space extended quotations vary with different documentation systems; check the guidelines for the system you’re using.

Quotation of Up to 3 Lines of Poetry

Quotations of up to 3 lines of poetry should be integrated into your sentence. For example:

In Julius Caesar, Antony begins his famous speech with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” (III.ii.75-76).

Notice that a slash (/) with a space on either side is used to separate lines.

Quotation of More than 3 Lines of Poetry

More than 3 lines of poetry should be indented. As with any extended (indented) quotation, do not use quotation marks unless you need to indicate a quotation within your quotation.

Punctuating with Quotation Marks

Parenthetical citations.

With short quotations, place citations outside of closing quotation marks, followed by sentence punctuation (period, question mark, comma, semi-colon, colon):

Menand (2002) characterizes language as “a social weapon” (p. 115).

With block quotations, check the guidelines for the documentation system you are using.

Commas and periods

Place inside closing quotation marks when no parenthetical citation follows:

Hertzberg (2002) notes that “treating the Constitution as imperfect is not new,” but because of Dahl’s credentials, his “apostasy merits attention” (p. 85).

Semicolons and colons

Place outside of closing quotation marks (or after a parenthetical citation).

Question marks and exclamation points

Place inside closing quotation marks if the quotation is a question/exclamation:

Menand (2001) acknowledges that H. W. Fowler’s Modern English Usage is “a classic of the language,” but he asks, “Is it a dead classic?” (p. 114).

[Note that a period still follows the closing parenthesis.]

Place outside of closing quotation marks if the entire sentence containing the quotation is a question or exclamation:

How many students actually read the guide to find out what is meant by “academic misconduct”?

Quotation within a quotation

Use single quotation marks for the embedded quotation:

According to Hertzberg (2002), Dahl gives the U. S. Constitution “bad marks in ‘democratic fairness’ and ‘encouraging consensus'” (p. 90).

[The phrases “democratic fairness” and “encouraging consensus” are already in quotation marks in Dahl’s sentence.]

Indicating Changes in Quotations

Quoting only a portion of the whole.

Use ellipsis points (. . .) to indicate an omission within a quotation–but not at the beginning or end unless it’s not obvious that you’re quoting only a portion of the whole.

Adding Clarification, Comment, or Correction

Within quotations, use square brackets [ ] (not parentheses) to add your own clarification, comment, or correction.

Use [sic] (meaning “so” or “thus”) to indicate that a mistake is in the source you’re quoting and is not your own.

Additional information

Information on summarizing and paraphrasing sources.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). (2000). Retrieved January 7, 2002, from http://www.bartleby.com/61/ Bazerman, C. (1995). The informed writer: Using sources in the disciplines (5th ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Leki, I. (1995). Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies (2nd ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 185-211.

Leki describes the basic method presented in C, pp. 4-5.

Spatt, B. (1999). Writing from sources (5th ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 98-119; 364-371.

Information about specific documentation systems

The Writing Center has handouts explaining how to use many of the standard documentation systems. You may look at our general Web page on Documentation Systems, or you may check out any of the following specific Web pages.

If you’re not sure which documentation system to use, ask the course instructor who assigned your paper.

  • American Psychological Assoicaion (APA)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • Chicago/Turabian (A Footnote or Endnote System)
  • American Political Science Association (APSA)
  • Council of Science Editors (CBE)
  • Numbered References

You may also consult the following guides:

  • American Medical Association, Manual for Authors and Editors
  • Council of Science Editors, CBE style Manual
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

Academic and Professional Writing

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Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

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Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Quoting means using exact words taken from another author/source. 

Paraphrasing means restating ideas from an outside source in precise detail , using your own words .

Summarizing means restating major ideas or conclusions from an outside source as concisely as possible in your own words .

Guidelines for Quoting Sources

Quoting a source means taking exact words from that source and using them in your own writing . 

Any time you quote another author, you need to format the quote in a way that makes it absolutely clear where the words taken from your source begin and end. This is usually accomplished by putting quotation marks around the other author’s words, as in this example:

The opening words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago,” are so famous that Google Docs is programmed to autofill them as soon as one types the phrase “four score.”

It’s essential to use quotation marks any time you include words from an author in your own writing, even if the quotation is just a word or two long. There’s only one significant exception to this rule: with longer quotations, it’s sometimes appropriate to set the author’s words off in a block quote. For example:

In the opening of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln places the end of the Civil War into the broader context of American History,

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Some documentation systems still require writers to use quotation marks for block quotes, but others, such as MLA Style, do not require this.

Most formal documentation systems require writers to include some kind of indicator at the end of each quotation, usually a parenthetical note or a footnote, that tells readers exactly where those words came from. We haven’t included such an indicator in the examples above because the source is clearly identified before the quote, and we consulted an online version of the Gettysburg Address, so there are no page numbers to cite. In such situations, MLA Style does not require a parenthetical note, but this might change in a formal class setting, depending on your instructor’s preferences and the documentation system they wish you to use.

Guidelines for Paraphrasing Sources

Paraphrasing a source means restating ideas from that source fully, in precise detail, using your own words . Paraphrasing is useful when you want to explore or engage the content of your source at length, but for some reason the original language would be difficult for your readers to understand. This might happen, for example, if your source includes a great deal of discipline-specific terminology and you’re writing to a general audience, or if the grammar of the original makes it difficult to integrate the author’s words coherently into your writing.

As with quotations, it’s important to let your readers know exactly when you begin and end a paraphrase. This can usually be accomplished by including a clear transition at the beginning of the paraphrase and a parenthetical note at the end. (See Example 2a below)

A good paraphrase will usually take roughly the same number of words as the original author did to express the same points. However, since a paraphrase is technically your writing, you cannot use words or phrases that come directly from your source. Thus, to write a paraphrase, you need to find a way to capture the complete meaning of your original source, using exclusively your own words.  

There are only two significant exceptions to this rule, and both relate to the use of terminology: 

Exception 1: When, in the passage you’re paraphrasing, an author uses specific terminology that is common and easily recognizable to your readers , and rephrasing it would alter the meaning of a passage (e.g. referring to a correlation as “statistically significant”), then it’s generally acceptable to use the author’s terminology in your paraphrase without placing it in quotation marks.

Exception 2: When, in the passage you’re paraphrasing, an author uses specific terminology of their own invention that it’s important for your readers to know or that it would be difficult to paraphrase without using, you can use the original author’s term in your paraphrase. Depending on the citation system you’re using and the preferences of your instructor, you may or may not need to put quotation marks around these terms the first time you use them. Either way, though, it should be absolutely clear from the context of your writing when you introduce a term from another author’s writing. (See Example 2b below)

Guidelines for Summarizing Sources

Summarizing means concisely restating the major ideas from a source in your own words . A good summary will convey the ideas from the source in as few words as possible without distorting those ideas or leaving out crucial information from the original context. Summaries are useful when you want to introduce substantial ideas or conclusions from another author into your own writing, but you don’t intend to engage those ideas or conclusions in depth.

Summaries generally present less of a challenge for writers than paraphrases, because they do not require you to restate the details and nuances of the original author’s ideas. However, writing summaries does create a certain amount of responsibility, as you’ll need to decide which ideas from your source should be included in your summary and which ideas can be left out. To be effective, a summary needs to present the source’s ideas in a way that serves the piece you are writing. To be ethical , though, a summary also needs to present these ideas without distorting or altering the original’s author’s meaning or leaving out essential pieces of context. 

Once again, it’s essential for a writer to indicate when a summary begins and ends, as well as to clearly identify the source being summarized. The methods for this are the same as with a paraphrase: include a clear transition at the beginning of the summary and either a notation or another clear transition at the end. (See Example 3a below.)

The rules for using terminology in a summary are the same as with a paraphrase: Whenever possible, a summary should be written entirely with your own words. However, if an author uses common terminology that is integral to the ideas you’re summarizing and that you anticipate your readers will be familiar with, it’s okay to use those terms in your summary without quotation marks . Conversely, when an author uses terms of their own invention that are integral to the ideas you’re summarizing, then you may use those terms as well, as long as you clearly indicate with your language (and, if your instructor requires it, with quotation marks) which terms come directly from your author.  

Examples and Common Mistakes

Quotation examples.

Note: We’ve alternated between MLA and APA styles in the examples below because these are two of the most common documentation systems used in academic writing and also the easiest to reproduce on a webpage.  They are far from the only systems, though, so make sure to follow the rules for the citation system assigned by your instructor for a given assignment.

Original Text:

“As efforts are focused on curbing the spread of COVID-19, essential services such as access to sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted. According to preliminary data, in Zimbabwe, the number of caesarean sections performed decreased by 42% between January and April 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. The number of live births in health facilities fell by 21%, while new clients on combined birth control pills dropped by 90%. In Burundi, initial statistics show that births with skilled attendants fell to 4749 in April 2020 from 30, 826 in April 2019.” From the article “ WHO Concerned Over COVID-19 Impact on Women, Girls in Africa ,” published by the World Health Organization on June 18, 2020.

Example 1a: Appropriate Quotation (MLA Style)

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected reproductive health care in parts of Africa. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “in Zimbabwe, the number of caesarean sections performed decreased by 42% between January and April 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. The number of live births in health facilities fell by 21%, while new clients on combined birth control pills dropped by 90%.”

In the paragraph above, the author clearly indicates when their ideas end and the quote begins. Note that, since they identify the source of the quote beforehand and this is an online source with no page numbers, MLA style does not require any kind of parenthetical note at the end of the quotation.

Example 1b: Appropriate Quotation (APA Style)

In Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for many women to access basic medical care. The World Health Organization noted on their website in June of 2020, “As efforts are focused on curbing the spread of COVID, essential services such as access to sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted” (WHO, 2020).

Once again, the author clearly indicates where their words and and the words from their source begin. Since they’re using APA style, they also include a parenthetical note at the end, indicating the author of their source and the year it was published.

Example 1c: Inappropriate Quotation (Distorts Original Meaning)

In June of 2020, the World Health Organization called the world’s attention to a crisis in Africa, arguing that, “essential services… have been disrupted.”

In the quotation above, the author uses a handful of words taken out of context to imply conclusions that are not in the original article. The WHO article never calls the health care situation in Africa a “crisis” or anything similar, but the author’s introduction to the quote suggests that it does. Furthermore, the article focuses exclusively on services related to reproductive health care, but the author has deliberately cut out any words indicating this, which makes it appear that all essential services have been disrupted. This may or may not be true, but either way it’s not a conclusion this article supports.

Example 1d: Inappropriate Quotation (Text Not Fully in Quotation Marks)

In June of 2020, the World Health Organization reported that access to sexual and reproductive health services had been disrupted in parts of Africa. “According to preliminary data, in Zimbabwe, the number of caesarean sections performed decreased by 42% between January and April 2020 compared with the same period in 2019” (WHO, 2020).

In the quotation above the author uses language directly from the original article (“access to sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted”) without putting these words in quotation marks. This means that the author has not fully documented the WHO article’s contribution to their essay.

Example 1e: Inappropriate Quotation (Source Not Clearly Identified)

In June of 2020, it was reported that “access to sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted” in parts of Africa.

In this case, the author puts all words from the original in quotation marks, but does not clearly identify the source. Readers therefore know that these words come from another author, but do not know who the author is (no pun intended).

Paraphrase Examples

Original Text: 

From “ A Modest Proposal… ” by Jonathan Swift (1729), reprinted by Project Gutenberg

“It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.” From “ A Modest Proposal… ” by Jonathan Swift (1729), reprinted by Project Gutenberg

Example 2a: Appropriate Paraphrase (MLA Format)

In the first paragraph of his satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal…,” Jonathan Swift seems to affirm the sensibilities of his upper-class London readers: Swift’s narrator notes how sad it is for people to walk through London or journey through rural areas to see women who are surrounded by multiple children and begging every passerby for money. The narrator goes on to lament that these women are forced to spend their time begging, rather than getting more respectable employment, in order to feed their children. The narrator speculates that this same lack of jobs will affect the children as they get older, forcing them to become thieves or to leave England all together, possibly joining the rebel forces of King James or emigrating to the Americas. By engaging his readers on their own terms in this way, Swift accomplishes several things…

In this example, the author clearly identifies the source they’ll be paraphrasing in the opening clause, and they use a colon to indicate exactly where the paraphrase begins. The paraphrase itself rephrases Swift’s opening paragraph in close detail, using almost as many words as the original passage. However, by expressing Swift’s ideas in more modern language, the reader makes the passage more accessible to readers who might have trouble understanding Swift’s dense eighteenth-century writing style.

Once again, note that since the author identifies their source fully before the paraphrase, and the text they’re using is an online version with no page numbers, MLA Style does not require any kind of parenthetical note at the end of the paraphrase. However, the author’s transitional phrase (“By engaging his readers on their own terms…”) serves as a clear signal that the paraphrase is over and the author has moved on to their own analysis of Swift’s writing.

Example 2b: Appropriate Paraphrase (APA Style)

Swift opens his satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal…” by seeming to affirm the sensibilities of his upper-class London readers: Swift’s narrator notes how sad it is for people to walk through London or journey through rural areas to see “beggars of the female sex” who are surrounded by multiple children and begging every passesby for money. The narrator goes on to lament that these women are forced to spend their time begging, rather than pursuing an “honest livelihood,” to feed their children. The narrator speculates that this same lack of jobs will affect the children as they get older, forcing them to become thieves or to leave England all together, possibly joining the rebel forces of King James or or emigrating to the Americas (Swift, 1729).

This paraphrase is almost identical to Example 2a, but in this case the author has used a few of Swift’s own phrases in their paraphrase, using quotation marks to indicate which words come straight from the original source. This gives modern readers some sense of Swift’s distinct writing style and the way he engages the sensibilities of the readers in his time, while still making the passage accessible to modern readers. Also, note that in this case, the author has used an APA Style parenthetical note to indicate where the paraphrase ends.

Example 2c: Inappropriate Paraphrase (Mosaic Plagiarism)

At the beginning of “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift’s narrator describes the melancholy sight of seeing women begging throughout London and the surrounding countryside, sometimes surrounded by three, four, or six children, all in rags. The narrator goes on to say that these women are begging because widespread poverty has deprived them of an honest livelihood, and that their children will most likely grow up to be thieves or be forced to leave England forever (Swift, 1729).

This paraphrase suffers from “mosaic plagiarism,” which is when an author mixes their own words with occasional words or phrases from an outside source and offers no clear indication of this. In this case, the author uses some individual words (“melancholy”) and some longer phrases (“three, four, or six children, all in rags”) from Swift’s passage, but doesn’t place this borrowed language in quotation marks. The opening phrase and the citation at the end at least make it clear that the author is paraphrasing, but the lack of quotation marks still mean that the author has used Swift’s language in place of their own without giving Swift proper credit.

Example 2d: Inappropriate Paraphrase (Unclear Transitions)

At first, Swift panders to his readers in “A Modest Proposal…”. He suggests that it’s a sad experience to walk through London or the English countryside and see women begging, surrounded by children. All this begging must be the result of systemic property, because these women can’t get a reputable job and have no choice but to beg. Perhaps their children will grow up to be thieves, rebels, or emigrants. Surely a solution must be found, one that can remove all these poor people from upper-class eyes and make them useful members of society.

In this paraphrase, it’s difficult to tell when the author is paraphrasing ideas directly from Swift and when they’re commenting on Swift’s ideas or mixing them with their own. So, for instance, if you didn’t have access to Swift’s text you might wonder if Swift speculated that children of poor people might become “thieves, rebels, or emigrants,” or if that’s the essay author’s speculation. Conversely, you might assume that Swift suggests that something needs to be done to “remove all these poor people from upper-class eyes” in his opening paragraph, when in fact that’s not part of the original passage.

Summary Examples

The article “Your coping and resilience strategies might need to shift as the COVID-19 crisis continues” by Craig Polizzi and Steven Jay Lynn. Published on the website The Conversation in 2020.

Note: Since summaries, by definition, condense large amounts of text via concise phrasing, it’s not practical to copy the original text here. You can follow the link article, though, if it helps you to understand the examples below.

Example 3a: Appropriate Summary (APA Style)

Psychologists Craig Polizzi and Steven Jay Lynn note that individuals might need to change their coping strategies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Three particular strategies they recommend are “cognitive reappraisal,” “problem-focused coping,” and “cultivating compassion and lovingkindness” (Polizzi and Lynn, 2020).

In this example, the author concisely summarizes the overall argument of Polizzi and Lynn’s article. They put the names for Polizzi and Lynn’s three coping strategies in quotation marks–it’s entirely possible that Polizzi and Lynn did not invent these terms, but even so, they’re not commonly recognized terms, so it’s appropriate to note that they came straight from the article. On the other hand, the term “coping strategies” is also used by Polizzi and Lynn throughout their article (including the title), but this is an extremely common psychological term, and thus it’s not necessary for the author to place it in quotation marks.

Example 3b: Inappropriate Summary (Distorts Original Meaning)

Psychologists Craig Polizzi and Steven Jay Lynn argue that if everyone simply practiced “cognitive reappraisal,” “problem-focused coping,” and “cultivating compassion and lovingkindness,” the psychological effects of the pandemic would be minimal (Polizzi and Lynn, 2020).

The wording of this summary significantly distorts Polizzi and Lynn’s argument. Though they do suggest that these three strategies can help people cope, they never suggest that the strategies will work for everyone, nor do they suggest that these strategies alone can minimize the effects of a global pandemic. Presumably, this author is trying to emphasize Polizzi and Lynn’s claims in order to support a point of their own, but summarizing a source in a way that changes its original meaning is unethical and, if readers discover the distortion, makes the author’s argument appear weaker rather than stronger.

Example 3c: Inappropriate Summary (Unclear Transitions)

Psychologists have argued that, as the global pandemic stretches on, individuals will face new types of stress. In light of these new stresses, it’s prudent for everyone to employ a variety of coping strategies to maintain self-care and build resilience. Three potentially useful strategies are “cognitive reappraisal,” “problem-focused coping,” and “cultivating compassion and lovingkindness.” (Polizzi and Lynn, 2020).

This summary does not clearly signal where their ideas end and the summary of Polizzi and Lynn begins. Did Polizzi and Lynn suggest that the ongoing pandemic will require people to adopt new coping strategies, or did they just describe the practices of “cognitive reappraisal,” “problem-focused coping,” and “cultivating compassion and lovingkindness,” and the author connected these ideas to the pandemic themselves? The citation at the end indicates where the summary stops, but without a clear beginning point, it’s impossible to tell for certain how Polizzi and Lynn contributed to this paragraph.

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Using Sources

Summaries, paraphrases, and quotations, summarizing sources, paraphrasing sources, quoting sources, integrating sources into your writing.

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Summaries , paraphrases , and quotations help writers support their own ideas by referring to an authority on the subject, by giving examples of different viewpoints, and/or by providing background material. Whether you summarize an article, paraphrase a section of book, or quote an author's words directly, the author of the original work must always be given credit.

The goal of a summary is to make a long story short. For example, you want to reference a book in your essay, but maybe your reader hasn’t read the book. Your summary provides an overview in your own words. The length of a summary varies—maybe you summarize a book into just a couple pages or condense an article into a sentence or two. 

Summary Sample

In his essay “On the Uses of a Liberal Education,” Mark  Edmundson  discusses the commercialization of American higher education. The students are the consumers, and the universities lure them in with cushy dorm rooms, state-of-the-art campus gyms and less challenging courses, according to  Edmundson .

  • Conciseness counts. The challenge is to condense the text while still including the big ideas.
  • Take a look at chapter titles or section headings and subheadings to get a feel for the author’s key claims.
  • Try to articulate the author’s thesis statement in your own words.
  • Try to focus on the original text’s main ideas that are most relevant to your own paper. Take into account what your readers may already know about the text.

For further help, see the University of North Carolina handout Summary: Using it Wisely .

Paraphrasing can be especially helpful when you’re worried your reader might not understand a quote from another text—maybe it’s a difficult line from Shakespeare or filled with jargon from a technical field. Using your own words, your mission is to translate the passage into simple and easily understood language.

Paraphrase Sample

Original Text: “In the current university, the movement for urbane tolerance has devolved into an imperative against critical reaction, turning much of the intellectual life into a dreary Sargasso Sea” (Edmundson 288).

Paraphrase: Universities no longer encourage intellectual growth and instead frown upon analytical thinking, which results in an eerily stagnant environment (Edmundson 288).

  • To stay out of the plagiarism trap, avoid phrasing or sentence structure that mimics the original text.
  • Unlike a summary, your goal here is not to shorten the original text or cut out detail. Your job is to provide the same meaning but in laymen’s terms.
  • Don’t forget to cite your source.

Here are some great examples of successful vs. unsuccessful (plagiarized) paraphrases: 

http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase.html . 

Directly quoting a source is an appropriate choice when an author says something so articulately, humorously, or poignantly that you couldn’t have said it better yourself. Use brief quotations sparingly (your reader usually prefers to hear your voice, and using your own words shows your instructor that you comprehend a text). 

Quotation Sample

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

  • Don’t forget quotation marks, which visually remind your reader the words belong to another author.
  • As always, give credit where credit is due: cite your source!

For further help, see the Writer's Handbook from the University of Wisconsin-Madison .

Writers use sources in order to support their own ideas. How much we quote, paraphrase, or summarize sources depends on the demands of the assignment as well as the discipline in which we are writing. An essay on a piece of literature, for example, would integrate quotes more frequently than a research paper in the social sciences.

For further information on integrating sources into your writing, check out the Harvard Guide to Using Sources.

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2b. Reading Analysis: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

Summarizing sources, writing with other voices.

In most of your college writing, which is evidence-based writing, you’ll need to incorporate sources. In some writing assignments, you’ll be asked to interpret and analyze a text or texts. The text is the subject of your writing, and your interpretation of the text will need to be supported with evidence from the text. In other writing assignments, you’ll need to support a thesis with evidence from texts and sources. When you incorporate a text or source should generally be performing one of four functions:

  • Helping to provide context for your inquiry or argument
  • Supporting a claim you are making
  • Illustrating a claim you are making
  • Providing a different perspective or counterargument to a claim you are making

When you incorporate other voices–texts and sources–into your writing, you will either summarize, paraphrase, or quote them in order to distinguish them for your voice and ideas.

Overview of Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Texts and Sources

Quotations  must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.

Paraphrasing  involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.

Summarizing  involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Writers frequently intertwine summaries, paraphrases, and quotations. As part of a summary of an article, a chapter, or a book, a writer might include paraphrases of various key points blended with quotations of striking or suggestive phrases as in the following example:

In his article “What’s The Matter With College?,” Rick Perlstein argues that college, in American society and individual lives, is not as significant as it was in the 1960s, because colleges are no longer sites of radical protest, heated intellectual debate, or freedom from parental authority for students. Perlstein waxes nostalgic over the 1966 California gubernatorial race between Ronald Reagan and Pat Brown when the University of California’s Berkeley campus—a locus for “building takeovers, antiwar demonstrations and sexual orgies”—became a key campaign issue. These days, “[c]ollege campuses seem to have lost their centrality,” according to Perlstein, and do not offer a “democratic and diverse culture” that stood apart from the rest of society and constituted “the most liberating moment” in a student’s life (par. 1).

Use the following pro tips as you read texts and sources so when it comes time to write you have quotations, paraphrases, and summaries ready!

  • Read the entire text, noting the key points and main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words what the single main idea of the text is.
  • Paraphrase important supporting points that come up in the text.
  • Consider any words, phrases, or brief passages that you believe should be quoted directly.

Summarizing Texts and Sources in Your Writing

Generally speaking, a summary must at once be true to what the original author says while also emphasizing those aspects of what the author says that interest you, the writer. You need to summarize the work of other authors in light of your own topic and argument. Writers who summarize without regard to their own interests often create “list summaries” that simply inventory the original author’s main points (signaled by words like “first,” “second,” “and then,” “also,” and “in addition”), but fail to focus those points around any larger overall claim. Writing a good summary means not just representing an author’s view accurately but doing so in a way that fits the larger agenda of your own piece of writing.

The following is a two-sentence template* for a summary adapted from the work of writing scholar Katherine Woodworth that captures 1) info on the author/text and the text’s main point; and 2) the point or example that relates to the point you’re making:

[ Author’s credentials ] [ author’s first and last name ]  in his/her  [ type of text ] [ title of text ],  published in  [ publishing info ]  addresses the topic of  [ topic of text ]   and argues/reports that  [ argument/general point ]. [Author’s surname]  claims/asserts/makes the point/suggests/describes/explains  that _____.

See the two-sentence summary template in action:

Example . English professor and textbook author Sheridan Baker, in his essay “Attitudes” (1966), asserts that   writers’ attitudes toward their subjects, audiences, and themselves determine to a large extent the quality of their prose. Baker gives examples of how negative attitudes can make writing unclear, pompous, or boring, concluding that a good writer “will be respectful toward his audience, considerate toward his readers, and somehow amiable toward human failings” (58).

NOTE that the  first  sentence identifies the author (Baker), the genre (essay), the title and date, and uses an active verb (asserts) and the relative pronoun  that  to explain what exactly Baker asserts. The  second  sentence gives more specific detail on a relevant point Baker makes.

More examples!

Example . In his essay “On Nature” (1850), British philosopher John Stuart Mill argues that using nature as a standard for ethical behavior is illogical. He defines nature as “all that exists or all that exists without the intervention of man.”

Example . In his essay “Panopticism,” French philosopher Michel Foucault argues that the “panopticon” is how institutions enforce discipline and conformity by making every subject feel like they are being watched by a central authority with the capability of punishing wrongdoing. He concludes that it should not be “surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons” (249).

Example . Independent scholar Indur M. Goklancy, in a policy analysis for the Cato Institute, argues that globalization has created benefits in overall “human well-being.” He provides statistics that show how factors such as mortality rates, child labor, lack of education, and hunger have all decreased under globalization.

NOTE that the above examples prompt the writer to develop a more detailed interpretation and explanation of the point/example made in the second sentence. That’s the work of developing a paragraph with a text or source! You can see what that looks like more fully in  Integrating Quotes and Paraphrases into Your Writing .

Acknowledgments:

The summary template is adapted from Woodworth, Margaret K. “The Rhetorical Précis.”  Rhetoric Review  7 (1988): 156-164.

Integrating Quotes and Paraphrases into Writing

Image of two hands sculpting wet clay at a potter's wheel.

Image: Sculpting from raw material; Piqsels

“Integrating” means to combine two or more separate elements or things into a cohesive whole. Obviously, as you bring other perspectives (readings and texts) into your writing, you’re combining the work and words of others with your own original ideas. However, you should be strategic in the choices that you make–not every author needs to be quoted directly, not every passage of text needs to have every word or phrase quoted directly, and not every source will contribute multiple quotes or paraphrases to your essay. That’s why we like the analogy of a sculptor at this point in the writing process. Now that you’ve collected the raw material you need to support your argument through thorough research, it’s time to shape it carefully and deliberately so that it combines with your own writing to create an appealing experience for your reader. On to the sculpting!

When to Paraphrase:

  • When you need to communicate the main idea of a source, but the details are not relevant/important
  • When the source isn’t important enough to take up significant space
  • Any time you feel like you can state what the source claims more concisely or clearly
  • Any time you think you can state what the source claims in a way that’s more appealing to the reader

When to quote directly:

  • When incorporating an influential or significant voice into your essay
  • The words themselves clearly back up your claims, and come from a good authority
  • The words are unique/original, and already clearly express your key concepts in a compelling or interesting way
  • There’s no better way to present those main ideas to the reader than how the original author has stated them
  • When engaging with a source that disagrees with you, so you can state the argument fairly

A note on “cherry-picking” :   Cherry-picking is a pejorative term that refers to writers using quotes or paraphrases to support their own argument, even though the source would likely disagree with how their words or ideas are being used. Responsible academic writing means presenting evidence in a context that’s consistent and appropriate with the source’s original use of the quote or paraphrase.

Placing Direct Quotes in Your Essay

Here’s a helpful acronym that will remind you of the steps to take to most effectively incorporate direct quotations into your argument: I.C.E  (Introduce, Cite, Explain). I’ll use it as a verb to remind myself when constructing a paragraph: “Did I make sure to ICE my quotes?” 

image of frosty cubes of ice.

Image: Ice, Ice, baby; Pexels , CC0

I ntroduce:

Introduce the quote before providing it. Sometimes this is as simple as “Author X states” or some variation of that phrase. If it’s the first time you’re quoting an author, it’s a good idea to give the author’s full name, but you can rely on the surname in subsequent quotations. If there is context you’d like the reader to know about source, it’s generally wise to provide that before the quote, as part of its introduction. Avoid using “says” when introducing quotations unless you are citing a speech, interview, or other spoken text; “writes,” “states,” “explains,” “argues,” etc. are better options.

C ite: 

Every style (MLA, APA, Chicago) has different formats for citations, but anything that isn’t common knowledge–whether you’re directly quoting or paraphrasing, must come with a citation. We’re using MLA format in this class, so make sure you understand the rules of MLA Citations and Formatting.

Example: In the “Higher Laws” chapter of Walden , Henry David Thoreau seems to become despondent over his inability to overcome what he calls “this slimy beastly life” (148).

(For reference, the introduction of the quote is underlined, while the citation is bolded; you won’t do this when you actually cite. If you introduce a quote by using the author’s name, you only need to provide the page number where the quote can be found. Otherwise, their last name will also need to appear in the citation.)

You should always take time to explain quotations, paraphrases, and other types of evidence that you include. Readers look for your analysis of evidence in academic writing, and without it, a reader may draw different conclusions about the relationship between evidence and claim than you do. This is why the basic format for making an argument in academic writing is claim –> evidence to support claim –> reasons why you think the evidence supports the claim.

The Explanation of a quote or paraphrase is where you’re showing the reader your critical thinking, analytical skills, and ability to present your original ideas clearly and concisely. It is the part of the essay where you’re really presenting your original ideas and perspectives on a topic–that makes it very important!

Template for a Paragraph with Direct Quotes

As you read the following example, note where we are introducing, citing, and explaining the quote. .

Example : As I argue above, Thoreau is burdened by the implications of his animal appetites, of the intrinsic sensuality of living in the material world. However, Thoreau’s own language may be creating a heavier burden than he realizes. In Philosophy of Literary Form , Kenneth Burke writes: “. . .if you look for a man’s burden , you will find the principle that reveals the structure of his unburdening; or, in attenuated form, if you look for his problem, you find the lead that explains the structure of his solution” (92, emphasis in original). As this quote suggests, Burke believes that the answer to the problem often lies in the way that the problem is presented by the author or poet. His description of life as “beastly” and “slimy” is an ironic reframing of similar natural elements as those that brought him to Walden Pond in the first place. Thoreau’s choice of terminology to describe something results in the shifting of his attention and priorities.

To think about how I’m structuring this body paragraph, let’s break it down into its constituent parts:

  • Topic sentence : As I argued above, Thoreau is burdened by the implications of his animal appetites, of the intrinsic sensuality of living in the material world. This is what the paragraph will be about–Thoreau’s burdens–and I’m telling the reader in one quick phrase how this connects to another part of the essay.
  • Paragraph’s Main Claim: However, Thoreau’s own language may be creating a heavier burden than he realizes.  This is the main claim I’m making to my reader and is what the rest of the paragraph needs to focus on supporting with evidence and my own analysis. Each paragraph should generally only have one main claim so the reader can stay focused on the argument at hand.
  • The Evidence: In  Philosophy of Literary Form , Kenneth Burke writes: “. . .if you look for a man’s burden , you will find the principle that reveals the structure of his unburdening; or, in attenuated form, if you look for his problem, you find the lead that explains the structure of his solution” (92, emphasis his). Whether a direct quote or a paraphrase or both, there should be evidence of some sort in all of your body paragraphs (and sometimes in your intro and conclusion, too). It should clearly support the main claim and be cited, whether a quote or a paraphrase. Note that this evidence has the “I” and the “C” of ICE. The next step has the “E.”
  • The Explanation: As this quote suggests, Burke believes that the answer to the problem often lies in the way that the problem is presented by the author or poet. His description of life as “beastly” and “slimy” is an ironic reframing of similar natural elements as those that brought him to Walden Pond in the first place.  As mentioned above, this is arguably the most critical part of the paragraph. Depending on the evidence and your audience, your explanation might need to summarize the quote in your own words (if it’s complex), but it absolutely needs to analyze the evidence (quote or paraphrase) and explain its relevance or connection to the main claim of the paragraph. It may take one sentence, it may take several. 
  • The Concluding Sentence: Thoreau’s choice of terminology to describe something results in the shifting of his attention and priorities. Like a conclusion paragraph, this final sentence summarizes the main take-away for the reader of that paragraph its located within.

These parts of the paragraph should be present in any standard body paragraph, but besides the topic and concluding sentences, the other elements can actually be re-ordered (evidence can come before the main claim, if it’s clear which is which!). Use signal phrases and transitions to help guide the reader so they know the purpose of each of your sentences.

A Note on Direct Quotes and Syntax

Quotes (and this can be tricky!) have to be integrated into the correct syntax of your sentences , which may occasionally mean adding a word or clarifying a pronoun. Syntax refers to the ordering of words and expressions within a sentence.  Brackets [ ] are useful for maintaining a smooth flow in the syntax of a sentence while integrating a quotation. Brackets are a signal to the reader that you are inserting a word or phrase into into a quotation for the purposes of clarity and correct syntax.

Example : Buell claims that “[Thoreau’s] point was not that we should turn our backs on nature but that we must imagine the ulterior benefits of the original turn to nature in the spirit of economy, both fiscal and ethical” (392).

Pro Tip : Here is what happens to your reader’s attention and understanding of your argument when you don’t match a direct quote’s syntax with the rest of the sentence that you’re placing it into:

Image of an orange train going off the tracks.

Writing as Inquiry Copyright © 2021 by Kara Clevinger and Stephen Rust is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing: what’s the difference?

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing: what’s the difference?

When you write a research paper, you’re required to include evidence from scholarly sources in order to prove your thesis. In this post, we discuss the three most common ways to include source material in your research paper: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

What is quoting?

When you quote, you use exact words from a source in between quotation marks. You may want to quote directly from a source when the information is particularly complex or when the quote expresses an idea or point in a way that perfectly captures the situation, concept, or thought.

If you’re using a quote that is more than four lines, you should include the material as a block quote. To learn more about how to quote, take a look at our tips for integrating quotes into a research paper. Always include an in-text citation after the quoted material.

What is paraphrasing?

When you paraphrase, you re-write borrowed material in your own words. Paraphrasing requires you to change the words of the quote without changing their meaning.

Paraphrases are typically shorter than the quotes that they restate and always require an in-text citation that credits the original source material.

What is summarizing?

A summary provides an overview of an idea or topic. You might wish to summarize parts of a source if you’re writing a literature review as part of a longer research paper.

Summarizing requires you to sum up the key points of a text, argument, or idea. A summary will be shorter than the original material. Even if you’re not using any of the source’s exact words in your summary, you still need to include an in-text citation.

How do you know when to quote, paraphrase, or summarize material?

Quotes, paraphrases, and summaries are simply different ways of presenting borrowed information. However, there are definitely situations in which one mode may be better than another.

When to use quotes

While it’s a myth that you should avoid using quotes as much as possible in a research paper, you do need to ensure that you are using them effectively. Turning in a paper full quotes is certainly not a good idea, but quotes can be useful if:

  • you are trying to make a particularly complex point
  • you intend to analyze or interpret a quote’s language
  • you need to provide a definition of something
  • a quote perfectly encapsulates an idea that is important to your argument

When to paraphrase

Paraphrasing allows you to confirm that you fully understand a quote’s meaning and to explain that content in your own words. There may be several reasons why you would choose to paraphrase a passage, rather than quote it. You might use paraphrase if:

  • the material is relatively easy to describe
  • you don’t wish to break up the flow of your writing with quotes
  • you don’t intend to provide analysis of the information
  • you want to combine material from several sources

When to summarize

Summary allows you to synthesize a larger amount of information from a single source or multiple sources. An effective summary will highlight the key points of a text in a concise manner. In a research paper, you’ll primarily use summary in the literature review or state-of-the-field section.

Examples of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

Quoting example.

When you quote, you should always try to “sandwich” the quote in your own words. You can also break up longer quotes with ellipses, or with snippets like “Smith explains.” For instance, in the example below, the writer uses her own words to lead into, and out of, the quotes.

Jenna Lay claims that “Catholic women resisted any easy demarcation between a Catholic medieval past and a Protestant, reformed present in both their religious practices and their print and manuscript books,” an argument that can be extended to include entire Catholic families (16). However, despite the fact that scholars such as Patton, Lay, and Jennifer Summit have argued that “we stand to learn much when we determine […] whether the early modern collector of a medieval devotional book was a Catholic or Protestant,” few studies have explored in any depth how Catholics used their books in the post-Reformation period.

Paraphrasing example

In the example below, the writer succinctly paraphrases one of the main points of a book chapter. Even though there are no direct quotes, she still includes an in-text, parenthetical citation at the end of the paraphrase.

Elizabeth Patton, in her research on Catholic women’s bookscapes, contends that the staunchest Catholic families maintained textual networks in which they circulated books that were banned in Protestant England, including copies of medieval devotional manuscripts (117).

Summarizing example

In the following summary, the writer uses her own words to provide a concise, yet thorough, summary of an article’s purpose and use of evidence. Again, although no direct quotes are included, the writer adds an in-text citation at the end of the example.

To establish the importance of this main point, Raghavan and Pargman firstly explore two related paradigms in sustainable HCI research: sustainable computing and computing for sustainability. The latter, they argue, has been simultaneously under- and overdeveloped and offers little in the way of practical solutions for how computing can lessen humans’ ecological impact. As a result, they focus on computing for sustainability and explore how disintermediation can catalyze solutions across several key categories, including value, class, labor, and social control. Importantly, they note that policy solutions have failed to fully address the relationship between computing and sustainability (1-2).

In-text citations for quotes, paraphrases, and summaries

Whether you’re quoting exact words from a text, paraphrasing a quote in your own words, or summarizing someone else’s work, you’ll need to include in-text citations for any borrowed material.

You can use BibGuru to create in-text citations in MLA , APA , or any major citation style . Most in-text citations are in the form of parenthetical citations . It’s always a good idea to consult your assignment guidelines, or your instructor, to find out which citation style is required for your paper.

Frequently Asked Questions about quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

When you quote, you use exact words from a source in between quotation marks. When you paraphrase, you re-write borrowed material in your own words.

Paraphrasing requires you to change the words of the quote without changing their meaning.

Summarizing requires you to sum up the key points of a text, argument, or idea. A summary will be shorter than the original material. Even if you’re not using any of the author’s exact words in your summary, you still need to include an in-text citation.

When you quote, you should always try to “sandwich” the quote in your own words. You can also break up longer quotes with ellipses or with snippets like “Smith explains.” For instance, in the example below, the writer uses her owd words to lead into, and out of, the quote.

Paraphrasing allows you to confirm that you fully understand a quote’s meaning and to explain that content in your own words.

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67 Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Integrating evidence is a vital step to take when composing effective essays, presentations, and productions. How smoothly you integrate evidence impacts your credibility as a researcher and writer. There are three primary ways to integrate evidence: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. For all of these, particularly quoting, there is a “formula” to follow: 1) introduce, 2) insert, and 3) explain. The introduce step entails preparing the reader for the new information that’s to come. You can do this by mentioning the source, author, or using signal phrases, such as “according to” or “statistics show that” before bringing in a quotation, paraphrase or summary. The insert step happens when you enter in a quotation, paraphrasing of a fact, or summarize a point made by another source. Lastly, the explain step is oftentimes the most important step to be taken. When explaining your evidence, you’ll demonstrate why the evidence or the source of the evidence is important and how it connects to your overall argument, specific claims, or other important information. By doing so, you’re providing in-depth insight and analysis that keeps your readers engaged and invested in what you have to say.

Quoting is when one uses the exact wording of the source material. Direct quotations should be used sparingly, and should be used to strengthen your own arguments and ideas.

When should one use a quotation? Ideally, you want a balance of quotations, paraphrased or summarized content in your writing. Some reasons to use a quotation instead of paraphrasing or summarizing might include:

  • When not using the author’s exact wording would change the original meaning
  • To lend authority to the point you are trying to make
  • When the language of the quote is significant

Quotations should always be introduced and incorporated into your argument, rather than dropped into your paper without context. Consider this first example of how not to incorporate a quotation:

There are many positive effects for advertising prescription drugs on television. “African-American physicians regard direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines as one way to educate minority patients about needed treatment and healthcare options” (Wechsler).

This is a potentially good piece of information to support a research writer’s claim, but the researcher hasn’t done any of the necessary work to explain where this quotation comes from nor explain why it is important for supporting her point. Rather, she has simply “dropped in” the quotation, leaving the interpretation of its significance up to the reader. Now consider this revised example of how this quotation might be better introduced into the essay:

In her Pharmaceutical Executive article available through the Wilson Select Internet database, Jill Wechsler writes about one of the positive effects of advertising prescription drugs on television. “African-American physicians regard direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines as one way to educate minority patients about needed treatment and healthcare options.”

In this revision, it’s much clearer what point the writer is trying to make with this evidence and where this evidence comes from.

Paraphrasing

While there are numerous skills you will develop as writers and communicators throughout your composition experience, one that builds the foundation to effective source usage and understanding is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is a restatement of the information or point of the original source in your own words. You’ve probably heard of paraphrasing before and may have even attempted to paraphrase (or had trouble paraphrasing because it seemed as though no one could say it better than the author already did). However, you may not always have enough space or time to integrate a specific quotation, especially if it’s a lengthy one and covers multiple concepts or conveys complex details.

Further, we want to make sure, as effective writers, that we’re not distracting readers from our own perspectives or sources of information by including lengthy quotations from other sources. To put it another way, we don’t want to make our readers work for the point and information because they could lose interest or get lost and miss the important points we’re presenting to them by using the source(s). So, paraphrasing helps us avoid these mishaps and helps our organization and “flow” better.

Two Paraphrasing Tips:

If you’re trying to paraphrase but unsure as to where to begin, try:

a) explaining the author’s point to your peer who’s not familiar with that text or maybe even the concept being addressed there, or

b) writing down the specific thing(s) you want to emphasize from the other author’s point.

Summarizing

Summarizing is a skill similar to paraphrasing. However, it serves a different purpose, especially when writing. Summarizing usually comes into play when there are multiple steps or details to be conveyed. One of the ways summarizing differs from paraphrasing is in the language associated with them. Typically, you summarize a process, an event, or a story but you paraphrase a theory, concept, or claim. In the next paragraphs, author Stephen D. Krause offers us some helpful guidance on how to summarize and why it’s important.

Summaries of different lengths are useful in research writing because you often need to provide your readers with an explanation of the text you are discussing. This is especially true when you are going to quote or paraphrase from a source.

Of course, the first step in writing a good summary is to do a thorough reading of the text you are going to summarize in the first place. Beyond that important start, there are a few basic guidelines you should follow when you write summary material:

  • Stay “neutral” in your summarizing .  Summaries provide “just the facts” and are not the place where you offer your opinions about the text you are summarizing. Save your opinions and evaluation of the evidence you are summarizing for other parts of your writing.
  • Don’t quote from what you are summarizing .  Summaries will be more useful to you and your colleagues if you write them in your own words.
  • Don’t “cut and paste” from database abstracts .  Many of the periodical indexes that are available as part of your library’s computer system include abstracts of articles. Do not “cut” this abstract material and then “paste” it into your own annotated bibliography. For one thing, this is plagiarism. Second, “cutting and pasting” from the abstract defeats one of the purposes of writing summaries and creating an annotated bibliography in the first place, which is to help you understand and explain your research.

It’s important to learn how to create quotations, to paraphrase, and to summarize properly because we don’t want to plagiarize. But beyond our goal of not plagiarizing, we want to give proper attribution to those who’ve worked hard on their research and studies to share this information with the rest of the world. Learning to quote, paraphrase, and summarize properly will help you avoid plagiarism, especially accidental plagiarism, add more dynamism to your writing, and build your credibility and skills as an ethical writer and researcher.

Attributions

“How to Summarize—An Overview,” authored, remixed, and/or curated by Steven D. Krause,  CC BY-NC-SA, https://human.libretexts.org/@go/page/6482 .

“How to Quote and Paraphrase- An Overview,” authored, remixed, and/or curated by Steven D. Krause, CC BY-NC-SA, https://human.libretexts.org/@go/page/6483 .

Reading and Writing in College Copyright © 2021 by Jackie Hoermann-Elliott and TWU FYC Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Critical Writing Program: Decision Making - Spring 2024: Using Sources (Citing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing)

  • Getting started
  • News and Opinion Sites
  • Academic Sources
  • Grey Literature
  • Substantive News Sources
  • What to Do When You Are Stuck
  • Understanding a citation
  • Examples of Quotation
  • Examples of Paraphrase
  • Chicago Manual of Style: Citing Images
  • Researching the Op-Ed
  • Researching Prospective Employers
  • Resume Resources
  • Cover Letter Resources

Citation Style for the Critical Writing Program

You will be using the Chicago Manual of Style for your in text citations and bibliographies. The Libraries subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. The database is fully searchable. It is easy to find the various examples that describe citation format for specific formats. 

Chicago Manual of Style Online  (17th Edition) 

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Using and Incorporating Sources

Examples of quotations and paraphrases.

Here are a couple examples of what we mean about properly quoting and paraphrasing evidence in your research essays.  In each case, we begin with a BAD example, or the way NOT to quote or paraphrase.

Quoting in APA Style

Consider this BAD example in APA style, of what NOT to do when quoting evidence:

“If the U.S. scallop fishery were a business, its management would surely be fired, because its revenues could readily be increased by at least 50 percent while its costs were being reduced by an equal percentage.” (Repetto, 2001, p. 84).

Again, this is a potentially valuable piece of evidence, but it simply isn’t clear what point the research writer is trying to make with it.  Further, it doesn’t follow the preferred method of citation with APA style.

Here is a revision that is a GOOD  (or at least BETTER )   example:

Repetto (2001) concludes that, in the case of the scallop industry, those running the industry should be held responsible for not considering methods that would curtail the problems of over-fishing.  If the U.S. scallop fishery were a business, its management would surely be fired, because its revenues could readily be increased by at least 50 percent while its costs were being reduced by an equal percentage (p. 84).

This revision is improved because the research writer has introduced and explained the point of the evidence with the addition of a clarifying sentence.  It also follows the rules of APA style.  Generally, APA style prefers that the research writer refer to the author only by last name followed immediately by the year of publication.  Whenever possible, you should begin your citation with the author’s last name and the year of publication, and, in the case of a direct quote like this passage, the page number (including the “p.”) in parentheses at the end.

Paraphrasing in APA Style

Paraphrasing in APA style is slightly different from MLA style as well.  Consider first this BAD example of what NOT to do in paraphrasing from a source in APA style:

Computer criminals have lots of ways to get away with credit card fraud (Cameron, 2002).

The main problem with this paraphrase is there isn’t enough here to adequately explain to the reader what the point of the evidence really is.  Remember: your readers have no way of automatically knowing why you as a research writer think that a particular piece of evidence is useful in supporting your point.  This is why it is key that you introduce and explain your evidence.

Here is a revision that is GOOD (or at least BETTER ):

Cameron (2002) points out that computer criminals intent on committing credit card fraud are able to take advantage of the fact that there aren’t enough officials working to enforce computer crimes.  Criminals are also able to use the technology to their advantage by communicating via email and chat rooms with other criminals.

Again, this revision is better because the additional information introduces and explains the point of the evidence.  In this particular example, the author’s name is also incorporated into the explanation of the evidence as well.  In APA, it is preferable to weave in the authors’ names into your essay, usually at the beginning of a sentence.  However, it would also have been acceptable to end an improved paraphrase with just the author’s last name and the date of publication in parentheses.

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism. Authored by : Steven D. Krause . Located at : http://www.stevendkrause.com/tprw/chapter3.html . License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial

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What's On This Page?

Helpful tips, using your sources: quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing, apa style resources, apa style examples, citation managers, quick citation tools.

  • Are you working on an assignment?  Check the instructions for any specific citation requirements.  If you don't find any, reach out to your professor! 
  • The Writing Center is a great place to receive feedback about how you can improve your writing.  Their friendly experts can coach you through the process of drafting and revising essays, reports, presentations, personal statements for professional and graduate school—anything where clear written communication is important. They can help you with everything from presentation of ideas, to citation style, to grammar errors. Even before you start writing, the tutors are happy to discuss your ideas for a paper. Schedule an appointment with the Writing Center. Learn more about with the Writing Center and the process for scheduling an appointment in the MCPHS Writing Center LibGuide .
  • CASE provides academic support services to students across all three campuses. CASE works with students to maximize their potential by introducing them to the strategies that will make them more efficient, effective, and independent learners. Reach out to CASE .

Summarize, paraphrase, and quote to include others' ideas in your own writing.

  • Summarize: Condense the information to a few general statements. Summarize when you find the same information in many sources. Summarize when one source provides a lot of context for your project.
  • Paraphrase: Put the information in your own words. Paraphrase when one idea is important but the exact wording does not matter. You will often find paraphrasing useful if multiple sources have similar information.
  • Quote: Use a small portion of another person's words, exactly as that person wrote or said them. Put quotation marks around the words or phrases you borrowed. Quote when information is unique to one source and is not easy to reword. Quote when one source uses especially compelling language.
  • How to Recognize Plagiarism: Tutorial and Tests Learn how to use your sources in your paper in this tutorial for graduate students. You already know that you need to cite your sources. Explore how to blend information from your sources with your own ideas. From Indiana University. Skip the certification test; it is only for Indiana University's own students.
  • Academic Phrasebank The "Introducing Work" and "Referring to Sources" pages suggest phrases to use in your paper. Use the suggested phrases to help you evaluate others' ideas and include them in your paper. Other parts of the site might be helpful as you write other parts of your paper. For example, those parts might help you write your methods or conclusions. From the University of Manchester.
  • APA Style Guide, 7th edition The most recent edition of the American Psychological Association's official guide to APA style.
  • APA Inclusive Language Guide Developed by the American Psychology Association, this document includes suggestions for words or phrases that are more inclusive in tone and meaning.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: APA style Purdue's writing center provides excellent examples and information on APA citation style

Citation managers are amazing tools that can assist you during the research process. Using citation mangers is a way for you to collect, manage, and organize citations for all the articles, books and other sources you find. You can use them to create reference lists in a wide range of styles, do in-text citations, and share articles and citations with colleagues.

The citation managers that MCPHS supports are Zotero and EndNote .

  • MCPHS Libraries Citation Managers Research Guide This guide compares the different features of the citation managers that MCPHS has resources for: Zotero and EndNote.
  • MCPHS Libraries Zotero Research Guide This guide will walk you through setting up and using Zotero, as well as some specific tips and strategies.
  • MCPHS Libraries EndNote Research Guide This guide will walk you through setting up an account and the primary functions of EndNote, while providing you access to additional resources.

The Cite Button

Most of the Library's electronic resources can generate a citation for you. Check for the Cite Button or other Citation Tools in these locations:

  • In the menu to the right of an article/abstract.
  • At the top of the results list.
  • Under each citation in the results list.
  • At the bottom of an article/abstract page.

Citation Generators

Citation generators are useful tools for creating citations. Remember though, no citation generator is 100% accurate . Please double-check your citations against the handbook to be sure they are correct!

  • ZoteroBib is a quick, web-based citation generator provided by Zotero--no account or software installation needed.
  • Great for creating one-off citations in a wide variety of styles, including AMA. You can also create an account and save bibliographies here.
  • Standard online citation generator that walks you through the process of finding the information you need for a citation and then creating it.
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IMAGES

  1. Summary vs Paraphrase vs Quote

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

  2. Quoting example

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

  3. The Differences Among Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

  4. Paraphrasing vs. Summarizing vs. Quoting: What's the Difference

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

  5. Paraphrasing, Summarizing and Quoting in Academic Paper

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

  6. paraphrasing vs summarizing anchor chart

    examples of quoting summarizing and paraphrasing sources

VIDEO

  1. EAPP Lesson 3: Paraphrasing, Quoting and Summarizing

  2. Paraphrasing work

  3. Paraphrase

  4. Grade 9

  5. IELTS Writing Task 1, Paraphrasing, Examples

  6. Research Vocabulary: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Quoting,and Citing

COMMENTS

  1. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

    Practice summarizing the essay found here, using paraphrases and quotations as you go. It might be helpful to follow these steps: Read the entire text, noting the key points and main ideas. Summarize in your own words what the single main idea of the essay is. Paraphrase important supporting points that come up in the essay.

  2. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

    Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting. Depending on the conventions of your discipline, you may have to decide whether to summarize a source, paraphrase a source, or quote from a source. Scholars in the humanities tend to summarize, paraphrase, and quote texts; social scientists and natural scientists rely primarily on summary and paraphrase.

  3. Quoting, Paraphrasing, & Summarizing

    Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are all different ways of including evidence and the ideas of others into your assignments. Using evidence from credible sources to support your thesis is an important part of academic writing. Citing the source of any quote, paraphrase, or summary is an important step to avoid plagiarism.

  4. How to Paraphrase

    Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning. Paraphrasing is an alternative to quoting (copying someone's exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it's usually better to integrate sources by ...

  5. Quoting, Paraphrasing & Summarizing

    Direct quotation - Using the words or ideas of the source independently, like in the second example. Paraphrasing is taking the idea of a sentence or passage, and putting it into your own words . Paraphrasing is NOT copying the sentence and replacing or changing a few words to be different from the original.

  6. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

    Add additional information as needed. The board may appear as follows: Summarizing. Paraphrasing. Quoting. Must reference the original source. The text is much shorter than the original text. (For example, one may write a single page to summarize a four-page article.) Must use your own words, usually with a very limited use of quotations.

  7. PDF Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Sources

    Summarize and paraphrase Summarizing and paraphrasing are similar; both involve putting a source's ideas into your own words. The difference is one of scale. A summary is similar to the abstract of a research article or the blurb on the back of a book: it succinctly describes a much longer piece of writing. You might describe the key points of

  8. Citing Sources: Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

    Summarizing - take the key points of source text and put them into your own words. Summaries are generally much shorter than the original text. You may choose to summarize when: The wording of the source text is less important than the content of the source text. To condense long material to highlight only points specific to your paper.

  9. Quoting and Paraphrasing

    Quoting and Paraphrasing. College writing often involves integrating information from published sources into your own writing in order to add credibility and authority-this process is essential to research and the production of new knowledge. However, when building on the work of others, you need to be careful not to plagiarize: "to steal ...

  10. An Introduction to Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Quoting

    This is where paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting directly comes in handy— we can reference what others have said before us and respond. Being able to reference other source material allows us to: Provide credible support for our ideas. Give a variety of examples and different perspectives on our topic. Emphasize significant and ...

  11. Paraphrasing, quoting and summarising: Quoting example

    Paraphrasing example; Summary example; Quoting example; Additional resources; Example of quoting. Top tips to remember: ... is a longer quote indented and formatted differently from your own text to identify it is text taken from an original source (greater than 40 words). This text should be exactly as it is written.

  12. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

    Overview. Quoting means using exact words taken from another author/source. Paraphrasing means restating ideas from an outside source in precise detail, using your own words. Summarizing means restating major ideas or conclusions from an outside source as concisely as possible in your own words.

  13. Paraphrasing, quoting and summarising: What's in this guide

    This guide contains key resources for paraphrasing, quoting and summarising. Click the links below or the guide tabs above to find the following information. Read a brief introduction to learn the differences between parapharsing, quoting and summarising; Learn from examples of. Paraphrasing; Summarising; Quoting; Find additional resources; Link out to view our Foundation Studies Library Portal

  14. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Sources

    Summaries, paraphrases, and quotations help writers support their own ideas by referring to an authority on the subject, by giving examples of different viewpoints, and/or by providing background material. Whether you summarize an article, paraphrase a section of book, or quote an author's words directly, the author of the original work must always be given credit.

  15. 2b. Reading Analysis: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

    Overview of Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Texts and Sources. Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words.

  16. 28 Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Sources

    A summary, on the other hand, is used when describing an entire source. For example, if you want to emphasize the main ideas of a source, but not go into great detail, then a summary is usually best. Paraphrase. Paraphrasing is when you put source text in your own words and alter the sentence structure to avoid using direct quotes. Paraphrasing ...

  17. Paraphrasing

    Paraphrasing. A paraphrase restates another's idea (or your own previously published idea) in your own words. Paraphrasing allows you to summarize and synthesize information from one or more sources, focus on significant information, and compare and contrast relevant details. Published authors paraphrase their sources most of the time, rather ...

  18. Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing: what's the difference?

    A summary provides an overview of an idea or topic. You might wish to summarize parts of a source if you're writing a literature review as part of a longer research paper. Summarizing requires you to sum up the key points of a text, argument, or idea. A summary will be shorter than the original material. Even if you're not using any of the ...

  19. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

    There are three primary ways to integrate evidence: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. For all of these, particularly quoting, there is a "formula" to follow: 1) introduce, 2) insert, and 3) explain. The introduce step entails preparing the reader for the new information that's to come. You can do this by mentioning the source ...

  20. Using Sources (Citing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing)

    Using Sources (Citing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing) Toggle Dropdown. Understanding a citation ; Examples of Quotation ; Examples of Paraphrase ; Using Images in Your Writing Toggle Dropdown. Chicago Manual of Style: Citing Images ; Researching the Op-Ed; Researching the Job Letter Toggle Dropdown.

  21. 6.06: Chapter 28: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Sources

    Fortunately, the process for summarizing is very similar to paraphrasing. Like paraphrasing, a summary is putting the original source in your own words. The main difference is that a summary is a fraction of the source length—anywhere from less than 1% to a quarter depending on the source length and length of the summary.

  22. Examples of Quotations and Paraphrases

    Consider first this BAD example of what NOT to do in paraphrasing from a source in APA style: Computer criminals have lots of ways to get away with credit card fraud (Cameron, 2002). The main problem with this paraphrase is there isn't enough here to adequately explain to the reader what the point of the evidence really is.

  23. Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing

    Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing. Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the ...

  24. Research Guides: Occupational Therapy: Cite & Organize Sources

    Summarize, paraphrase, and quote to include others' ideas in your own writing. Summarize: Condense the information to a few general statements. Summarize when you find the same information in many sources. Summarize when one source provides a lot of context for your project. Paraphrase: Put the information in your own words.